Excerpt: "In 1995, sales of pagers were booming among Japan’s teenagers, and NTT Docomo’s decision to add the heart symbol to its Pocket Bell devices let high school kids across the country inject a new level of sentiment (and cuteness) into the millions of messages they were keying
into telephones every day. Docomo was thriving, with a bona fide
must-have gadget on its hands and market share in the neighborhood of 40
percent. But when new versions of the Pocket Bell abandoned the heart
symbol in favor of more business-friendly features like kanji and Latin
alphabet support, the teenagers that made up Docomo’s core customer base
had no problem leaving for upstart competitor Tokyo Telemessage. By the
time Docomo realized it had misjudged the demand for business-focused
pagers, it was badly in need of a new killer app. What it came up with
Quite a lot of interesting stats here. Would be interesting to see how some of these data points have evolved over recent years. I also wonder how many Indian app users are on 3G vs 2G vs WiFi. Conversations I have had with industry players suggest that cellular data is still not the primary medium.
I just saw a video demo of Krungsri aka Bank of Ayudhya's mobile banking app. It's the best mobile banking app I've ever seen by far. Not just about bank balances and branch locations like the typical banking app, but also transfers, shopping, stock brokerage services, rewards redemption, bill payments, reminders, social features, and so on and so forth. Some of this is even available to non-Krungsri customers. The only thing that detracts from their effort is that they only support smartphones (maybe only iPhones).
This may all sound obvious, possibly even a little "so what?" depending on how cynical you are -- but my experience with other mobile banking apps (if an app even exists for your bank) has been complete c**p, even in supposedly advanced Singapore. Other banks' apps I've seen may:
provide pretty basic bank balance type info
use the mobile phone purely as a channel for poorly thought through "promotions"
pretend that they're a fun social networking app that people will enjoy using, not realizing that consumers look to banks for functionality not fun
have such poor user flow that frustrated consumers uninstall them immediately
Both regional and global banks are guilty of the above.
Youtube should have a video of Krungsri's app that shows you what I found so admirable about it in comparison to the above all-too-common faults in other banks' approaches.
The presenter of the demo pointed out that their approach was to take a marketing approach from the beginning, rather than IT. The focus was on user experience, which doesn't mean pretty graphics but imagining what a customer, whether a young student, a high net worth individual or anyone else might need and delivering that simply. Technology considerations (and the inevitable arguments with the IT department) came later.
VimpelCom, the global telecoms operator, has signed an agreement with Microsoft and Nokia that will allow its customers to use their mobile accounts to buy applications and content on the Windows Phone platform.
Under the agreement, VimpelCom customers will be able to use their mobile accounts to find, try and buy digital content from the Windows store. The cost of any applications, games or music purchased will be deducted from pre-pay customers’ phone credits, or added to subscribers’ monthly bills.
VimpelCom will create its own virtual “shelf” to help customers find digital content in the Windows store, some of which will be tailored to local services.
I wonder what form this “shelf” will take. If it’s yet another operator attempt at a walled garden, it’s doomed to be dead on arrival. But if the parties involved are smart about it -- a very big IF -- it could turn into quite a useful tool for consumers.
In the long run, we're all dead, said John Maynard Keynes once.
Tom Clayton of Bubble Motion writes on Techcrunch how Facebook specifically and more generally, other apps/companies that want to make it in mobile, can avoid death and instead position themselves for sustained growth.
The short answer? Cater to the feature phone users who still form the majority of mobile phone users in the world today by working with telecom operators.
Note that his advice is meant for those who have BIG ambitions and are ready to play the long game. If you want to be the fastest growing coupon company focused on iPhone users in Singapore who like croquet... (keep adding your own sub-classifications) you don't need to follow his advice.
High-growth firm seeks salesperson with telecom background. Must be a self-starter with minimum ten years of experience and extensive contacts with telecom operators in Asia and/or other emerging markets. Channel partners will also be considered. Attractive upside offered including commissions and ESOP. No recruiters pls.
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